by Susan Hartley, The Early Bird
A Greenville barn-find was enough to get a lot of classic car enthusiasts excited, including some at TV’s Discovery Channel.
Richard Rawlings, star of Discovery’s Gas Monkey Garage made the trek all the way from Texas to Greenville just to check out some dusty old cars. But not just any old cars. Here’s the rest of the story.
Left with liquidating his Aunt Betty Brewer’s estate, former Greenville residents Gene and Wanda Weyant, now of Troy were thrilled when they found not one but three antique cars sitting inside a barn across the allyway from Betty’s home.
Betty’s husband and Gene’s uncle, Harold Brewer once ran a used car lot in Greenville.
After suffering a heart attack, Mr. Brewer passed away in 1975. “He never got to work in his brand new barn or live in the brand new brick home,” he and Betty were in the process of building, Gene said to his uncle.
In January 2014, nearly two years prior to his aunt’s death in September 2016, Gene and Wanda found what was to become a surprising discovery inside the barn.
“I’d always suspected their might be cars in there,” Gene said.
It took quite a while to find keys to unlock the barn.
“(Betty had giving) us suggestions on where to look for the keys. It took a long time to connect,” Wanda said.
Gene and Wanda can now enjoy a laugh when they recall Aunt Betty handing them a shoebox full of skeleton keys.
Upon locating the right key, Gene found the main room of the barn to be chocked full of items collected by his uncle and aunt over the years.
A large shelving unit and filing cabinet left just enough space for Gene to get through.
“I had a lot of trouble getting through a 14-inch space,” he said.
The effort turned out to be well worth it. After moving several items and cardboard out of the way, Gene saw the grill of a car he didn’t recognize.
“I got a corner up (cardboard) and saw the grill of a Shelby, but didn’t know what it was a first,” Gen explained. “I’d seen Shelbys on the road, but not up close. I’d never seen a front end like that.”
After some searching on the Internet, Gene discovered the car was a 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT Fastback. “It’s absolutely in original condition – white with black leather seats. I thought ‘we really have something like this?'” Gene recalls.
Neighbor Mark Wolf said he had watched Betty open the garage doors on the barn for several years to get her lawnmower out, but couldn’t see the car for all of the other items.
“It was rumored there was a Mustang in there,” Wolf said. “But not a Shelby.”
After making the surprise discovery of the Shelby, the Weyants were then faced with finding a key to open the separate windowless room inside the barn. “We went through a lot to find the key to open that door,” said Wanda.
Opening that door revealed two other antique automobiles – a 1929 Model A and a 1940 Ford Deluxe 2-door convertible – sitting back to back.
“Uncle Howard invested his money into real estate and cars,” Gene said.
As executors of Betty’s estate, the Weyants contacted local auctioneer Kirby Lyons. After auctioning her household belongings, as well as other antiques found in the barn, the Weyants asked Lyons, who also works with several automobile auction houses, to find buyers for three antique cars as well.
Lyons said he started calling contacts from across the U.S., including Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Car, as well as Legendary Motor Cars out of Canada.
“They didn’t make any offers at the time,” Lyons said of the Canadian-based television show. “They had some (Shelby Mustangs) in stock already.”
Lyons did receive offers from six enthusiasts after sending photos of the vehicles – some local dealers from Middletown and also from Indiana and Kentucky.
“Gas Monkey Garage contacted me asking for more photos,” Lyons said. “I sent 63 additional photos. They had specific things they were looking for – serial numbers, different area of the cars, under the hood.”
Lyons said all six offers were close.
“The main thing we were trying to do was sell all three cars to one person,” he explained.
Gas Monkey Garage won the bid and set a date to travel to Darke County.
Rawling and his crew were in Greenville for just a few hours on June 8, filming the cars as well as an interview with the Weyants in the yard of Aunt Betty’s home.
“This is the first time in a while I’ve been to Ohio to buy cars,” said Rawlings, who admitted he wasn’t planning to restore the Shelby – just clean it up and go for a spin.
“A car like that, it’ imperfections are what’s it’s earned,” he said.
The Greenville episode of Gas Monkey Garage is set to air in November.